Star Wars: The Last Jedi - A Review
Episode VIII of the grand saga delivers, just not the way it was expected to.
Let me just say one thing before I get into the review: this is going to be spoiler free, so have no fear of me crushing your hopes and dreams for this movie. That being said, without giving away any pivotal plot points, it's going to be difficult to convey everything I want to, so a follow up analysis of the movie will probably be coming up with spoilers, but this is going to be an overall look at the film, what I thought of it, and what it means for the franchise.
Right—with that out of the way, let's delve into the meat of the matter.
I'm fairly new to the Star Wars fandom—I watched the movies in 2016, binging Episodes IV, V and VI before glancing through the plot summaries for I, II and III (let's face it—no one wants to sit through those), and I watched all the lightsaber duels on YouTube (obviously). I then watched Episode VII and was understandably excited to see what would happen in the next installment of the franchise. When I heard that the name of the next movie was going to be The Last Jedi, I got super excited because it sounded very dark and eerie. The feeling only escalated when the teaser, and subsequently the trailer, were revealed in April and October of this year respectively; and when I heard the swell of the variation of the iconic Binary Sunset theme accompanied with the red text of the title, I was hyped for what this film would give us.
Well, now that I've seen it, I can say for sure that the film was not bad. Not bad at all, actually—I quite liked it. But it is far from perfect.
The story picks off from where we left things in Episode VII. The rebels, having lost the support of the Republic, are the only ones fighting against the rapidly expanding First Order. Their resources are reducing by the day and hope of ever toppling the enemy empire is running thin. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), hotshot X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) and Stormtrooper turned rebel, Finn (John Boyega) struggle to keep the rebels from being destroyed by the First Order while Rey (Daisey Ridley) seeks the tutelage of the legendary Jedi, and hero of the first battle against the Empire, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). However, as seen in the trailer, Luke refuses to train Rey, for he fears that the power she has could possibly lead to the same series of events that caused him to go into hiding in the first place. Meanwhile Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), continue to pursue the rebels while also furthering Kylo's journey of self-discovery and power that began in the previous movie.
This movie had some major hype to live up to, being firstly a Star Wars movie, and secondly, being the middle installment of a sequel trilogy. Many expected this movie to be similar to The Empire Strikes Back in tone, and to some extent, it is. But its what The Last Jedi does different to other movies in the franchise that makes it stand out, for better or worse.
The story of this movie is compelling and grand, making you feel the weight of choices and actions, while also giving you a real sense of danger and fear for the characters in the movie if said actions lead to bad situations. The acting was absolutely phenomenal, particularly from Hamill, Driver and Ridley; the three of them absolutely knocked it out of the park with their portrayals of their characters. You really get this sense of desperation and resignation from Luke in this movie—he truly is a man who has lost everything, and he very clearly does not want anything to do with his past anymore, even satirizing the entire concept of the Jedi order at some points. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, is conflicted and unsure of himself, due to his actions in the previous movie. He does not know where to go or what to do, and it's the moments of hesitation that make his character such a joy to watch and Driver really nails those facial expressions which captivate the audience. Ridley is also fantastic, portraying a girl who really doesn't know why she has these powers or why she's seeing these strange visions, and yet is sure of herself in crunch situations. It seems a little weird in places, but its done finely enough that you appreciate it when she appears on screen.
Another one of the merits of the film is the visuals. Director Rian Johnson has done a truly astounding job on making the film look as polished as possible—I would even go so far as to say that this is the best looking Star Wars movie of the lot. Every single second is captivating—especially the action sequences and the fight scenes in space (which by the way, are again, some of the best in the history of the franchise).
However, this movie is not without flaws. The humour in it is largely hit or miss, feeling unnecessary or tacked on in many portions. There are parts which made me actually upset that they used the moment to insert a quip, joke, or cheesy dialogue that, in my opinion, detracted from the gravity of the situation. There were a few jokes that were fine, but they were few and far between. There's also a minor issue with pacing, particularly in the first act of the movie, as it feels like the story is going nowhere for a bit before suddenly thrusting you into the fray all at once, but this is a minor gripe that doesn't really affect my perception of the film.
Perhaps the most important part of this movie that needs to be looked into is the tone and the overall importance of this movie in the grand scheme of the trilogy. When I came out of the theater, it took me a good two and a half to three hours to process everything that happened in the movie and what it meant for the series, because the movie presented me with so much more than what I thought I was going to get out of it. This movie was bold, not afraid to take risks and reshape everything we knew about the Star Wars franchise. It did things that shook the very foundation that the series had built itself on, and it showed the willingness to do new things and explore new areas of storytelling that, for better or worse, have the potential to change the landscape of the future films permanently. But if you ask me, this is a good thing, because while Star Wars is a movie that is held firmly in the eyes of nostalgic viewers, one cannot deny that a new take on the series may present viewers with a different experience all together—and isn't that what we want to see—something new and innovative rather than the same style over and over again?Overall, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, is an enjoyable film and a welcome addition to the Star Wars franchise. It was not everything I thought it would be, and this mostly worked, save for a few hiccups here and there. I'm going to give it a score of 8/10, and stay sharp for my upcoming analysis of the movie, which will include spoilers and my opinion on some of the finer aspects of the movie.